January 25, 2019

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Alumni relish teaching at schools they once attended

With Notre Dame Cathedral in the background, Aline Cambon poses with her students Caroline Wehner, second from left, Skip Maas, Hannah Storm and Myles Hesse during a trip she led to France. Cambone has been a French teacher at her alma mater, Father Michael Shawe Memorial Jr./Sr. High School in Madison, for 40 years. (Submitted photo)

With Notre Dame Cathedral in the background, Aline Cambon poses with her students Caroline Wehner, second from left, Skip Maas, Hannah Storm and Myles Hesse during a trip she led to France. Cambone has been a French teacher at her alma mater, Father Michael Shawe Memorial Jr./Sr. High School in Madison, for 40 years. (Submitted photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

In terms of school, “homecoming” is an event when alumni gather from their scattered locations and return to their alma mater.

For many teachers in the archdiocese, every day is “homecoming” as they walk through the doors of the elementary, junior high or high school they once attended as students.

Below are the thoughts of a few of those alumni-educators at Catholic schools in central and southern Indiana. Among the aspects they value about teaching at their alma mater, there is one constant—their ability to openly discuss, share and practice their Catholic faith.

‘The Lord called me to be here’

Unlike most who seek jobs after college, Lindsey Scott cast a very small net—more of a lasso really.

“I couldn’t see myself working anywhere else, so I only applied here,” says the 24-year-old special education teacher at St. Monica School in Indianapolis. “I felt God call me to come back here.”

The lifetime member of the parish attended Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., to study deaf and hard-of-hearing education. One course required for the degree changed her focus.

“I fell in love with special education,” she says. “It’s where I felt the most confident in my abilities, and the most joy.”

But Scott finds joy in Christ and her Catholic faith as well. She spent her first two years after college as a missionary in Ireland and Scotland sharing the Catholic faith and Gospel message with youths for National Evangelization Teams.

Toward the end of her second missionary year, Scott says she “asked the Lord where he needed me to go next. [St. Monica] is the only place I felt him need me. There were no issues, it was an easy process, and I felt such peace. It was a clear sign that the Lord called me to be here.”

Having spent time in a public school as a student-teacher, Scott appreciates now being able to “share with students my relationship with God, and how amazing it is to have one. I love working in an environment where I can pray, and the fact that we go to Mass every week as a school.”

Other than “calling my former teachers by their first name and getting away with it,” Scott says she feels no awkwardness in teaching where she herself had been a student.

“St. Monica is such a family community,” she says. “It’s my parish, my home. I can’t imagine doing anything else or being anywhere else. This is where I’m meant to be.”

‘I always dreamed of going back’

Jane Noel, 61, taught for eight years in public schools, and owned and operated a day care and kindergarten with a friend for 17 years. But in the back of her mind, she had a secret desire.

“I always loved my job,” she says. “But I always had a dream of going back to St. Lawrence and just giving back.”

For 10 years now, the lifetime member of St. Lawrence Parish in Lawrenceburg has been living that dream as a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at the faith community’s school she herself attended.

“I wanted to be able to teach the kids how to pray, and that you can pray anytime, anywhere,” she says, “and to share my love of Jesus no matter what subject I taught.”

So she has, not just for the few years she taught religion, but also in her primary subject, language arts.

“Whatever the topic of the story they’re reading [for the class], there’s always a way to include the faith,” she says.

Noel even created “WOW God Wednesdays,” where she tells “a story about how God worked a miracle in someone’s life,” she explains. “They are true stories that leave the kids saying, ‘Wow!’ … Sometimes the junior high kids will even stop in to hear a story.”

And Noel has been able to fulfill her desire to “pray at any given moment on any given subject. We pray every day at certain times, or any time. We’ve seen many prayers answered.”

Some of those prayers are “for our abortion-minded women,” says Noel, who serves as president of the board of directors for the Southeast Indiana Pregnancy Center in Lawrenceburg.

Getting to practice and share her faith at the school she once attended has been a wish come true for Noel.

“It’s all I dreamed it would be,” she says.

A ‘special, unique school’ with ‘the feeling of family’

When Stephen Sims, 34, speaks of his alma mater, Father Michael Shawe Memorial Jr./Sr. High School in Madison, his love for the school is obvious.

“Shawe is a special, unique place, very small,” he says. “Our class had 25 [students], and they’re all my best friends.”

Things haven’t changed much since Sims graduated.

“It’s still the same as far as being close-knit and tight,” he says. “Kids are still everybody’s friend.”

The married father of two young children knows this because he sees it firsthand. Sims is in his seventh year of teaching physical education at the school and serving as its athletic director.

Spoken like a sports fan, he appreciates the faith “that comes into play” at the school, attended predominantly by youths of families who, like the Simses, are members of Prince of Peace Parish in Madison.

The faith that unites the students and staff, combined with the school’s small size, creates “a more intimate environment,”, Sims says.

“The staff knows every kid and what they need,” he notes. “They spend time with the kids. They know their strengths and weaknesses and their backgrounds, what’s going on in their families, so they can help them out better. Our teachers are supportive of the kids.”

French teacher Aline Cambon was working at the school when Sims attended Shawe—her son was one of his classmates.

But Cambon’s ties to the school go even further back. She has not only been teaching French at the school for 40 years—she, like Sims, is also a graduate of Shawe and Pope John XXIII School.

“We moved here from France when I was 9-and-a-half,” says Cambon, 63, who graduated from Shawe in 1973 and began teaching there in 1978.

She says the school has always had “the feeling of family. I like the support and love you feel from the students as well as their families.”

But what she most likes about teaching at Shawe is practicing her Catholic faith.

“If you see a student is down or having a difficult time at home, you can pray before class,” she says.

She teaches her students to pray the Hail Mary in French, and “they love to pray it,” she says. “They ask to pray it before tests. Once in the hall, they were practicing for an oral part of the test, and they asked, “Can we pray right now?’ And we held hands and prayed. It was so touching.”

The support, love and faith of the community shined through in a profound way after Cambon gave birth to her second son.

“I was in the hospital in a coma,” she recalls. “You wouldn’t believe the support they gave me—it was amazing. … When I came back, the [Pope John XXIII] elementary kids made cards for me.”

Just this year, Cambon’s grandson started preschool at Pope John XXIII.

“To me, it’s like a dream come true to teach” at Shawe, she says. “I don’t feel like I’m going to work. I feel like I’m with my own family.” †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!